Armor Series On Location: Rush Sturges

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You might be wondering, “What are you doing hanging out with kayakers?” Well, when we test our products, we thoroughly test our products. And who better to test our new Armor Series case than some of the best kayakers in the world?

Meet Rush.

27 year old Rush Sturges is one of the biggest names in whitewater kayaking, renowned for both his film production and his water skills (including the invention of several freestyle kayaking moves).

Rush became established on the scene in 2003, when he won the Junior World Championships of Freestyle Kayaking in Austria. He has represented the United States 4 times since, and was one of the first people to successfully navigate the highest volume rapids in the world, on the Congo River.

In addition to his on-water exploits, Rush is also an award winning kayak film-maker who produces films of his expeditions with his company River Roots Productions and finds time to be a hip hop artist on the side.

Rush and three other expert kayakers were chosen to test out the new OtterBox Armor Series while on the White Salmon River in Washington. We had a chance to ask the soulful Sturges a few questions:

Q: How do you feel about being chosen as one of the first athletes to try out the new OtterBox Armor Series:

A: Pretty fired up! It fits perfectly into our lifestyle. My job as a professional kayaker requires me to stay connected no matter where I am. The river is my home so knowing I can always have my phone with me is pretty awesome!

Q: What’s your next adventure?

A: I leave for British Columbia right after this. I’ve been working on a year-long project with Red Bull Media House. We are creating a film about waterfall running and river exploration.

Q: What do you love most about Kayaking?

A: Everything! Just being in the wilderness and enjoying nature. Any day on the river is usually a good one…

Q: What goes through your mind when you’re about to go over a waterfall?

A: When you’re at the top, you still ask yourself if this is a very good idea. But over time you learn to handle the adrenaline, so gradually you become more comfortable with tackling the next big thing.

Q: What would be a good way for someone to get into kayaking?

A: Take a class. My parents run a kayaking school in northern California that they started 30 years ago. It’s called Otter Bar Lodge. They are one of the leading kayak schools in the world.

Q: What do you think is your proudest moment in the sport?
A: This last year we completed a section of the Congo River, which has the biggest rapids in the world. That was a really stressful mission and kind of experimental because nobody had actually run anything close to that big before. There was a team that attempted it before us and they all died, so it was a really tough decision to go and do it. Getting through that, surviving and leaving the Congo was probably the proudest moment of my life – and the scariest for sure. We always try to do a lot of first descents – trying to find new rivers that haven’t been explored before. It’s really a young sport in a lot of ways. I mean, kayaking is ancient, but this type of paddling is new.

Q: What is your biggest fear?

A: Probably not being able to use my body to its fullest potential. Not being able to experience the outdoors or paddle anymore would probably be my greatest fear.

Q: Do you have any superstitions?

A: I carry stones with me. I have a piece of stone that I found in Iceland on me. We call it the ‘Power Rock.’ We found it at the base of this massive waterfall and anytime somebody is about to run something that’s really next level, we’ll put the rock on them. I wear it all the time. It’s more like a ritual than a superstition but a lot of us wear a jade stone which is traditional for protection over water. But, I wouldn’t say that I’m superstitions – I’m just interested and fascinated, but neutral on the whole thing… I’m not really sure where I stand.

Q: What are three apps you use most?

A: Pandora, Flashlight – it’s funny how often that’s useful… It’s probably the one I use the most. And maps, for sure.


Q: What safety precautions do you take before going on any trip?

A: Well there’s a lot of safety we do on the river. We bring systems with us so you can pull a kayak out of a river if it gets pinned… You just kind of have an arsenal of safety stuff you always bring with you. We try to bring some sort of Spot GPS device, satellite phone, and now we can bring our iPhone with the Armor Series. We spend a lot of time in Africa and other countries that have malaria so we want to make sure we have the proper meds to cure that. One of the biggest struggles we have being in the water so much is preventing infections – we fight with that quite a bit.

Q: Any paddling memory you want to share?

A: Well, I can tell a good one about Lane and I. I rescued Lane out of a pool of hippos in Uganda on the White Nile. We were doing this section of whitewater that had the highest concentration of hippos and crocodiles on the planet… It was a really dangerous section and Lane went into a hydraulic and got stuck in there and ended up swimming. The whole river was full of hippos so we were constantly on guard with these amazing animals. I knew that no matter what pool he floated into there was gonna be hippos in it, but you really have no choice when a friend is in need. So he grabbed the back of my boat and we paddled through a pool and as soon as we were out I turned around and saw two massive hippos come out of the water… we had gone right over them and we were ok. They’re one of the most dangerous animals in the world. They kill more people in Africa every year than all other animals combined.

Q: What is your favorite boat?

A: Dagger Nomad

Q: Do you have certain websites that you always go to?

A: I’m really into music so I use Hype Machine, and mostly social media stuff. I do a lot of music myself, so I guess that’s my side-hobby. I try to practice every day if I can.

We had a great time chatting with Rush and if you want to hear more about his travels, his kayaking, his film-making or his music. You can learn more by checking out these links:

Check out the final cut of our on-location video here:

About the author



Hi! I'm Storm resident technology freak and internet nut. I run Social and Online Content Strategy for OtterBox. I'm aggressively unfancy and not a member of the X-Men. I also write the Tiberious blogs for OtterBox.

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